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[2020-03-25] Who - Janis Joplin THUMB

Women Who Rock: 3 Things You Didn't Know About Janis Joplin

03/25/2020 12:00 PM

By Leila Abdul-Rauf

Janis Joplin will always be remembered as a wild, lively singer with a powerful, screeching voice and electric stage presence. You may also recall a woman who loved her alcohol and died tragically young of a heroin overdose. But Janis left a stronger legacy than that, and lived large while she was here.

Janis Joplin performing "Kozmic Blues" live at Woodstock, 1969

1. It's even less-well known that "You Better Run" was a cover! The Young Rascals reached the top 20 with their version of the song in 1966, but Benatar added a lot of grit in her version without sacrificing the harmonies.

1969 was filled with career highlights for Janis. She performed with her Kozmic Blues Band at the legendary Woodstock Festival on August 16, 1969 – at around 2:00 in the morning, sandwiched between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Sly and the Family Stone. She also joined Tina Turner onstage at Madison Square Garden for an impromptu duet of "Land of 1000 Dances" in November, and later sang "Raise Your Hand" with Tom Jones on his TV show, This Is Tom Jones, which aired in December.

Janis Joplin performing with Tom Jones in 1969

2. She often performed other people's songs, making them her own.

At least five of Janis's most famous hits were cover songs: "Piece of My Heart," "Summertime," "Me and Bobby McGee," "Cry Baby," and "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)." She wasn't a prolific songwriter, but she did pen a few hits herself, including "Down on Me" and "Move Over."

3. Her car sold for a jaw-dropping amount of money.

While one of Janis' most famous songs remains the a capella "Mercedes Benz," she actually drove a Porsche – a very distinctive one. In 2015, Janis's Porsche 365 sold for a record-breaking $1.76 million at an auction, the highest price ever paid for a Porsche 365 at any auction. Janis originally purchased the vehicle in 1968, and had it painted all over with a bright mural of birds, butterflies, landscapes, floating eyes, mushrooms and skull-like faces.

Janis reportedly drove it a lot around San Francisco, and fans would leave notes for her under the windshield wipers. The car is now in a private collection but has been loaned out to museums on occasion.

Leila Abdul-Rauf is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Oakland, CA. Leila is guitarist and vocalist for metal bands Vastum, Hammers of Misfortune, and ethereal post-punk band Terebellum. She also composes and produces ambient music under her own name, with electronic trio Ionophore, and with synth-folk duo Fyrhtu. She has toured internationally and is a private guitar and voice teacher in her spare time.

"Janis studio" by Rigidity flexibility is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
"Janis Joplin Tom Jones 1969" by ABC Television is in the public domain.
"Janis Joplin's Porsche (front view)" by Annulla is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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